Skies open up to aircraft leasing


Aircraft leasing in the Middle East is set to take off, driven by forecasted traffic growth and liberalisation of the region's air travel sector, including the furthering of open skies policies, an expert said at a conference in Dubai.

Speaking at the 3rd Annual Middle East Aviation Finance Conference, Erik Dahmen, commercial director of Oasis International Leasing Company -- the Abu Dhabi-based big ticket leasing company -- said leasing would have a vital role to play in the future financing of the region's airline fleets.

"Although the number of aircraft on operating leases lags behind the global market, the growth potential is enormous. Boeing has estimated the Middle East will need 640 aircraft worth around $63 billion within the next 20 years," said Dahmen.

"Leasing will enable airlines to manage constrained capital budgets by relieving them of the huge financial burden associated with owning aircraft."

Oasis Leasing believes the regional market has largely recovered from the repercussions of the events of September 11 last year. Meanwhile, industry analysts predict, more liberal, open skies policies will increase aircraft purchases.

The worldwide leasing industry has increased from $40 billion to $500 billion in 20 years, demonstrating strong six per cent annual growth, according to Dahmen. Today almost one third of leasing transactions are in the transport sector.

Oasis Leasing has announced three aircraft transactions in recent weeks. In partnership with Compass Capital Corporation in the US, Oasis Leasing has financed the acquisition of an MD82 aircraft on lease to Continental Airlines.